Testicular torsion requires immediate care
Boys need to be aware of signs of “testicular torsion,” or a sudden twisting of a testicle. One sign is extreme pain – and it’s an emergency that requires immediate evaluation in the emergency room.
“When a testicle twists, blood flow can be cut off completely,” says Michaella Prasad, MD, a specialist in pediatric urology for Garden State Urology, which is affiliated with Atlantic Health System. “We have a limited amount of time in which to untwist it. Otherwise, the damage can be so severe that we might have to remove the testicle.”
Males have two testicles, located between the legs and behind the penis, in a pouch of skin called the scrotum. Losing one could affect the child’s ability to father a child. This condition is rare, affecting only one in 4,000 boys, usually between the ages of 12 and 18 years, but it can happen at any age.
Often, boys are embarrassed to tell anyone about the pain in that part of the body, Dr. Prasad says. So adults should talk to them about it and the importance of getting care. “The twisting can happen during sleep, in math class, or at any time,” she says. “There’s no way to predict if or when it could happen. But our message is: If you feel extreme pain in the hip, groin or scrotum, tell someone about it immediately.”
Sometimes, a testicle twists and then untwists by itself. So the extreme pain disappears as quickly as it occurred.
“But it’s very likely to twist again, and it might not untwist the next time,” Dr. Prasad says. “So boys should always tell someone about it.”
The pain is usually so severe that patients are very willing to have the surgery to avoid it happening again, and they are greatly relieved after it.
Surgery involves attaching the testicle to the scrotum so that it can no longer twist. Patients return home the same day and can return to normal activity in a few weeks.
Dr. Prasad is part of Atlantic Medical Group, a multispecialty network of health care providers. For more information, visit atlanticmedicalgroup.org. She can be reached at Garden State Urology at 973-828-4300.